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 Advice on finger stretch
Author: JooceLoose 
Date:   2020-03-29 04:41

Hi everybody,

I am looking for some advice and information regarding finger stretch requirements for playing a Bb clarinet. I have been playing tin whistles for some years and thought it was time to try a new instrument and the clarinet just sounds so right for me. However as I am getting on a bit I now have a bit of a problem with arthritis in my hands. As things stand I can play away on a high D tin whistle with no issues but I am finding it increasingly difficult to play a Bb tin whistle or anything physically bigger because of the finger stretch required to cover the holes. Can anyone tell me if the finger stretch required to play a Bb clarinet is comparable to a high D tin whistle or am I going to struggle to cover the holes?

Look forward to reading your replies and thanks in advance.

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 Re: Advice on finger stretch
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2020-03-29 07:28

I don't know how separated the holes are on a D tin whistle, but whether or not the stretch is longer and whether or not you're going to struggle to cover a clarinet's holes may be two different questions. The only way to answer the second one is probably going to be to borrow a clarinet from someone for a few minutes and try it.

Karl

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 Re: Advice on finger stretch
Author: JooceLoose 
Date:   2020-03-29 15:46

Hi Karl,
Thank you for your reply.
The holes on a high D tin whistle are roughly 2cm apart over a total of about 11cm.
I know the obvious answer to my question would be to simply pick up a clarinet and try it but I should have mentioned that due to other health issues and the current covid 19 situation I am confined to isolating in my home for at least the next 12 weeks with no direct contact with anyone outside and only the minimum possible contact with my family inside. This kind of rules out the opportunity of borrowing or trying out so I was hoping for a bit of informed advice so that I can decide if I should spend the money to buy an instrument and making use of my enforced isolation to at least get started with it.

Thanks again and take care,

Jooce.

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 Re: Advice on finger stretch
Author: Ralph Katz 
Date:   2020-03-29 17:45

My brother and I both have trigger finger and our hand specialists told us both pretty much the same thing. Before and after playing I individually:

- stretch back each finger
- stretch out the muscle at the base of each thumb
- stretch back each hand
- fully rotate and hold each hand, both ways

This has been helpful at age 69.

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 Re: Advice on finger stretch
Author: JooceLoose 
Date:   2020-03-29 20:06

Hi Ralph,

Thank you for your input and I agree totally. I get great benefit from stretching and extending.
I also have small gel packs that I can heat in the microwave or freeze in the freezer and I find that alternately placing a frozen one and a warm one on the backs of my fingers for about ten minutes after I finish playing helps a good deal.
However what I would like to know iswhat is the spacing of the holes on a Bb clarinet. As I said in my previous post the spacing on a high D whistle is roughly 2cm between holes, which I can manage just fine. On a Bb tin whistle the spacing is varied between 2.5cm and 3.5cm and I simply cannot separate my fingers sufficiently anymore to cover the 3.5cm gaps.

Again, thank you for your reply and I hope you and your brother continue to benefit from both exercise and from music.

Jooce.

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 Re: Advice on finger stretch
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2020-03-29 20:56

My Bb clarinet has tone hole spacings from 2.5 to 3 cm for a total of about 16 cm. The holes on my C clarinet are from 2.5 cm to a little under 2 cm with a total length of about 13.5 cm. There are additional keys to be operated by the pinkies at the bottom of the instrument, but an inventive repair tech can re-position or extend them to greatly reduce any additional stretch they entail.

Karl

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 Re: Advice on finger stretch
Author: MichaelW 2017
Date:   2020-03-29 21:01
Attachment:  IMG_1566a.jpg (181k)

Perhaps this may help, see picture, Bb- clarinet:



Post Edited (2020-03-29 21:03)

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 Re: Advice on finger stretch
Author: MichaelW 2017
Date:   2020-03-29 21:21
Attachment:  IMG_1569.jpg (209k)

... or a (German system) C-clarinet

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 Re: Advice on finger stretch
Author: albertarose 
Date:   2020-03-30 03:32

Ralph Katz,
I also have trigger finger in my right hand ring and pinky fingers which makes it difficult at times to quickly play the right hand low F and third line B. Do you have more information on these stretches? Perhaps a web site I can look at?
Thanks.

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 Re: Advice on finger stretch
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2020-03-30 04:30

To Ralph Katz and albertarose, I'm curious about your trigger finger problems. I've had trigger thumbs - each of them at different times. I was well into my 60s when my right thumb started catching. The orthopedist I went to started cortisone injections on each of them when he first diagnosed them. I think three shots (about 3 weeks apart) cleared the triggering completely on each thumb. I haven't had a relapse on either hand. He didn't even mention stretches as therapy (he recommended going straight to surgery to open the tendon sheaths if the shots didn't work).

Do you find the stretches beneficial? Have your docs ruled out steroid shots?

Karl

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 Re: Advice on finger stretch
Author: albertarose 
Date:   2020-03-30 07:03

Karl,

I've not gone to a doctor about my trigger finger(s). My right thumb and wrist have arthritis and both thumbs are double jointed which I believe caused the arthritis in my right thumb joint. I now use a Kooiman thumb rest because a neck strap was not helpful. I'm glad to hear the cortisone shots worked for you. Are cortisone shots expensive? I have no idea what they would cost up here in Canada. I would love to know if something as simple as stretching would help.

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 Re: Advice on finger stretch
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2020-03-30 11:45

My medical insurance covered the shots, so I don't know what the charge was. I only paid my specialist co-pay. I don't know what the financial ramifications would be in Canada. They were done as routine office procedures.

I've also recently had cortisone injections for wrist arthritis. They've been very helpful for pain relief although not a permanent cure for the arthritis, which is degeneration of the joint itself.

Karl

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 Re: Advice on finger stretch
Author: Nessie1 
Date:   2020-03-31 01:28

One other thought - did you know that you can get clarinets which have the finger holes covered, sometimes known as plateau clarinets. If a full stretch of a finger was a problem or you had a certain amount of inaccracy in covering the holes this might be the answer. They are not that easy to come by but do exist - try second hand sites. dealers etc.

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 Re: Advice on finger stretch
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2020-03-31 02:00

Plateaus can be installed into the rings of clarinets made with open holes. It *is* another option.

Karl

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 Re: Advice on finger stretch
Author: JooceLoose 
Date:   2020-04-02 20:30

HI all,

A big thank you to everyone who has taken the trouble to reply and thanks to you all for the great advice and very helpful pictures. You have given me lots of avenues to explore and I have no doubt that your advice will help me find an instrument that will allow me to begin my clarinet journey despite my wonky fingers.

To all I must apologise for taking so long to reply but unfortunately my wife has been unwell over the last few days and my focus and attention has all been directed towards her. She is, thankfully on the road to recovery and life is beginning to get back to a more relaxed and stress free state.

Again thank you to everyone for your replies.

Jooce.



Post Edited (2020-04-02 21:15)

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